Friday, January 20, 2012

Books are for Being Re-Discovered

Last April, I pulled from the bookshelves all the baby books with their thick cardboard pages with chew marks and stacked them by my bedside. Even the twins had moved on to the more complex tales of Winnie the Pooh and Clifford. I intended to cull through them, save just a few to remember this phase of life...but there they sat for a couple months until I decided that no, I couldn't give them away.

The cribs, toddler beds, baby toys, burp cloths, tricycles, and oodles of clothing, I sent to needy homes with relative ease. But the books? I just couldn't do it. Is Your Mama a Llama and Goodnight Moon squeezed inside plastic grocery bags with Clifford's Peekaboo and The Little Lost Lamb before taking up residence inside my dressing closet. The plan was for husband to bring me a box so they could live in the attic until I wanted to bawl over them one day when the children are older.

Ten months later, I'm still tripping over those bags, that is, until the other night when my oldest, Wyatt, discovered them, intentionally unloading the entire lot across the closet floor, the typical household book situation described in Wednesday's post.

I found him in the closet, head hunched seriously over the book in his lap as he read softly. He didn't remember them, thought they were new books. And even better, they were new books with words he now knew.

Seeing me, Wyatt yelled, "Listen, mommy! I can read it!"

Even though I was supposed to be hurrying him on toward bedtime, I found myself sitting with him on the sofa, helping sound out he words he didn't know as he read, "Is your mama a llama I asked my friend...D-ay-vuh. No he is not....."

I smiled tight. Bittersweet.

Later, I sat down with a few books from my own childhood that my mother found this past week. I opened Come Play with Me, its imaginary watercolor images still fresh in mind thirty years later.

I listened as Wyatt easily read aloud the book about rainbows, the one I had forgotten until my mother read the blog post on parking lot rainbows and realized I didn't remember the book that first started my love of them.

I put to the side the book about the dog coming to dinner, its cover connected to the memory of a very young me sitting on my bedroom's purple carpet, my head crumpled in frustration as I struggled to read that particular book...before hiding it away from my mother.It is good, Wyatt and me both re-discovering these books.

You're going to be shocked, but the same is true of Jim Henderson's The Resignation of Eve, which I reviewed here two weeks ago. In my original read of the book, I disagreed with how he interpreted the data in the first and last few chapters, felt he began with a hypothesis and made the research fit his theory. I enjoyed the case studies of the women (as did my husband who found himself reading over my shoulder versus watching football), but I disagreed with his overall conclusion (and still do).

And then, Mr. Henderson showed up in my comment box...and he wasn't snooty, pretentious, or dismissive like some authors I've met in the secular realm. In the face of negative criticism, He was real, kind, humble, and demonstrating a sincere heart for Christian unity in the church, a true Christ-like attitude that blew me out of my seat.

Not only that, but he invited dialogue on our differences concerning women's place in the church. And when I spoke, He listened. He, I, and a couple women whose stories are in the book actually began a good discussion in the comment box that led to a couple emails worth of conversation. There were no rude thoughts, no anger at our disagreement....just honest, thoughtful dialogue. In the end, he said, "I think we only disagree in degrees not in substance," and I found myself agreeing.

Although we disagreed on the bottom line of "degrees" concerning when/how women should lead in the church, we were still unified in the underlying "substance" of creating a climate of unity and mutual respect in Christ's church where all feel welcome to worship and serve our God.

In one comment, Mr. Henderson said, "I'm tired of Christians 'breaking up' over simple disagreements and differences - Jesus told us to love one another not agree with one another." Although this "agree to disagree" attitude works between me and my husband, because my church broke in half two years ago in disagreement, I have not really experienced such an attitude in the body of Christ. And I have to tell you--it is refreshing.

This author's Christ-like attitude has made The Resignation of Eve a continued topic of conversation at my house for two weeks--not because of how I disagree with him but because I've been able to look past that disagreement to see the women depicted in the stories inside the pages.

Re-discovering this book--it has left me silent in humble contemplation of how much unity could really be found in the church if we all put ego aside and focused on what holds us together: love for Christ.


  1. Hi Jennifer, it was a lovely surprise this morning to discover this follow-up post to your book review.

    I've mentioned your posts and gracious responses over on our Resignation of Eve blog

  2. "it has left me silent in humble contemplation of how much unity could really be found in the church if we all put ego aside and focused on what holds us together: love for Christ."

    Jennifer and I are on the same team.

  3. Thank you Jennifer. I am truly humbled by your honesty and your willingness to continue an open and candid dialog even when the first reaction (and maybe the next one as well) is disagreement. What an awesome example for how we should relate in the body of Christ.

  4. Laura--I'm over here shaking my head that this dialogue is considered the exception. How sad is it that we're surprised at another Christian's willingness to agree to disagree and still respect another in Christ? Maybe it's because my husband and I disagree on so many small points in Scripture and still live in peace, or maybe it's my church dividing two years ago, but I've had it with drawing a dividing line between brothers and sisters in Christ. We Christians need to be known as people of unity, as people who won't walk out of the room but who will focus on their shared firm foundation in the Lord.